Zedashe Ensemble is a vocal and dance group based in the eastern medieval fortress city of Sighnaghi, Caucasus Georgia. Directed by Ketevan Mindorashvili, the ensemble was founded in the mid-1990’s to sing polyphonic chants, unique to Georgia, that were largely lost during the Communist era. The complex three-part melodies date back to pre-Christian times and comprise music sung for the Orthodox liturgical services. Zedashe’s repertoire also includes folk songs, instrumental melodies and accompanying dances, which were collected from old publications and learned from village song-masters from around the many diverse regions of the country.
Zedashe’s initial inspiration drew from songs of Kiziqian region, where their hometown Sighnaghi is located. Over the years though they have expanded to also include song and dance traditions of the various regions in Georgia, including Rach’a-Lechkhumi, Guria, Kartli, and Abkhazia. They preserve the unique musical and dance techniques of each region, as well as a variety of instrumental traditions: panduri (Kakhetian lute), chonguri (Gurian lute), ch’iboni (goat-skin bagpipes), accordion, diplipito (drum), and doli (drum).
The group’s name is taken from the special earthenware jugs – zedashes – that were buried under the family home for the purpose of making wine. The wine made in zedashes was especially for the veneration of ancestors, and the tapping of the zedashe every year carried great ritual significance.
Besides numerous appearances throughout the Republic of Georgia, Zedashe has toured internationally with appearances at major festivals and universities in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Latvia, and the United States. In addition to their performances, Zedashe often holds day- to week-long workshops, either connecting with specific local choirs or simply open to those interested in the Georgian culture. Zedeashe members also run a music and dance school out of Sighnaghi for kids and in 2013 saw the debut of the children’s choir on the album Intangible Pearls.